Gaelic Football

Sometimes not very accurately described as a cross between Soccer and Rugby, though it is older than either game, Gaelic Football is probably the most popular team sport in Ireland and is played in almost all counties.

It is an entirely amateur game with the men’s game much more popular that the women’s, though the latter is growing fast.

Although there are only 32 counties in Ireland, 34 play in the Gaelic Football All Ireland Championship , with London and New York as ‘honorary’ counties.

The championship series is played throughout the summer, culminating in a final played in Croke Park each September before a crowd of about 80,000 people. Twice that number would probably attend if enough tickets were available.

Main image: Under 16’s match by Kman999

How Gaelic Football is Played

All Ireland Final, by Michael McGonagle

All Ireland Final, by Michael McGonagle

Games are played by two opposing teams of 15 players each, with a ball that is similar but smaller and heavier than a soccer ball. The object is to get the ball though or into the opponent’s goalpost.

The goalpost is H shaped, with a net under the cross post. If the ball goes over the post, a point is scored, if it goes under the post and into the net a goal, which is worth three points, is scored.

The ball can be caught in the hands and carried in the hand for a distance of four steps. It then must be either kicked, passed by striking or punching it with the hand or fist (throwing is not allowed), or ‘solo-ed’, that is dropped onto the players foot then kicked back into his hand.

Scores can be made by a kicked ball or one struck by the hand or fist.

In this short video clip from the 2003 All Ireland Football Semi Final, between Kerry and Tyrone, the speed at which the game is played – and its toughness – is evident.


Where to See Gaelic Football Played

Gaelic football is played all over Ireland, with the strongest counties being Armagh, Cork, Derry, Donegal, Down, Dublin, Galway, Kerry, Meath and Tyrone.

As the All Ireland series, a knockout competition between counties, runs during the summer months there is plenty of opportunity for visitors to attend games. For bigger games, which tend to be in late summer, you will need a ticket, but for most you can just pay on the way in. Enquire locally about upcoming games, or check the GAA website or local and national newspapers.

Call into a GAA club any evening when there is training in progress. You will be welcomed, someone will be happy to explain the ins and outs of the game to you. There are GAA clubs in pretty much every parish in Ireland, and most are training throughout the summer, so just ask a local.

Gaelic Football & Australian Rules Football

Australian Rules football, a professional game played in Australia, have quite a few similarities, although the Aussie game is played with an oval ball. Attempts have been made in recent years to establish a joint or compromise code, enabling international games between the two countries.

These have had some if not overwhelming success. The best players in either country tend not to get involved and the fans’ imaginations have not really been fired by the contests, each tending to feel that the rule changes excessively compromise the games.

That said several series of international games have been played in the last 10-12 years, crowds have been good and the players involved have enjoyed the chance to represent their countries.

Football News

The GAA - Latest Football News

Latest Football news supplied by

CYC ambassador and Armagh footballer Rian O'Neill at the CYC Launch 2024 at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile.
CYC ambassador and Armagh footballer Rian O'Neill at the CYC Launch 2024 at Croke Park in Dublin. Photo by Ben McShane/Sportsfile.

By Paul Keane

Staring down the barrel of a five-point deficit, and with just 15 or so minutes to go against Galway last Sunday, you might imagine that Armagh were a little concerned.

It was a sticky spot, no doubt, but if any team has displayed an ability to extricate themselves from such situations it's the Orchard County and, sure enough, they found a way again.

Stefan Campbell's late, late fisted point eventually tied up that game and the draw locked down top spot in Group 1 for Armagh, securing automatic qualification for the All-Ireland quarter-finals in under a fortnight.

Galway, meanwhile, became just the latest team to fail to get the better of Kieran McGeeney's men over 70 minutes.

Remarkably, just one county, Tyrone last year, has managed to beat Armagh over the regulation 70 minutes in their last 17 Championship games, a terrific record that stretches right back to an Ulster SFC opening round loss to Donegal in early 2022.

That's not an attempt to whitewash Armagh's four defeats on penalty shoot-outs - two of those came in Ulster finals - from the record. But it does clearly underline that it is going to take something special this summer to get the better of the third favourites for Sam.

Speaking at the launch of the GAA's Continental Youth Championships, which will be played in Boston in late July, versatile attacker Rian O'Neill said it is a record of stubbornness that he is proud of.

"You sort of think back on that and then it comes into your head that you actually haven't been put away in normal time or extra-time even," said O'Neill, who reflected on their latest show of defiance against Galway at neutral Markievicz Park.

"To finish it out the way we did, considering they went a point up towards the end, and to work that last score, when maybe we haven't in the past, it was a nice way to finish it out to get the draw and top the group.

"We have an awful lot of experience in the team and we have been there and topped the group last year, been in the last two quarter-finals and in the last two Ulster finals, so we definitely have that experience.

"In those last few minutes of games it's all about getting the shot off, getting the ball to the shooters and we worked it lovely down the wing and were able to get the ball over the bar."

Rian O’Neill of Armagh is tackled by John Maher of Galway during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 3 match between Armagh and Galway at Markievicz Park in Sligo. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile.
Rian O’Neill of Armagh is tackled by John Maher of Galway during the GAA Football All-Ireland Senior Championship Round 3 match between Armagh and Galway at Markievicz Park in Sligo. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile.

To finally get their hands on the Sam Maguire Cup will require Armagh to set another record straight. They haven't won an All-Ireland quarter-final since 2005, losing six in the meantime.

Not that it has left O'Neill and his colleagues with any sort of hang ups about games at this stage.

"I don't know if it leaves a residue as such," he said. "I think there's a bit of hurt there surely, but you've just got to park that and move on. That's in the past, you can't change that now. I think everyone in the panel, everyone in the squad, the management included, has parked those defeats.

"We don't talk about them so much. Obviously there's things you have to talk about around the end of those games, seeing them out and what not, and we take the learnings from them, but that's it really. We'll just be going out the next day and it's just another game and another step hopefully towards a semi-final."

In his 10th season in charge, nobody has put more into delivering another All-Ireland success for the county than boss McGeeney. Asked if he believes Armagh can get over the line at some stage under the former captain, O'Neill nodded enthusiastically.

"Yeah, absolutely," he said. "We've complete faith in the manager. He has a great backroom around him and he instils that belief in us that we're there and we're as good as what's around and we firmly believe that.

"At the end of the day, we have to show up in these big games and give a good account of ourselves and hopefully that's enough but if you're asking me if we believe, absolutely, 100 percent."

Armagh trailed Galway by two points at half-time last weekend and it came as no surprise that the players were held in the dressing-room for longer than normal.

"There actually wasn't that much said at half-time, it was more a case that we didn't play up to scratch and they were addressing a few things," revealed Crossmaglen man O'Neill.

"I think we ran over the time a bit but it wasn't an intentional thing at all, we just ran out of time. Look, we knew ourselves we hadn't played well, we didn't need anyone to tell us. We just needed a bit of a gee up and thankfully it worked out."

Posted: June 18, 2024, 7:19 am

Tommy Conroy, Mayo, and Brendan Rogers, Derry, in Allianz Football League action earlier this year. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile
Tommy Conroy, Mayo, and Brendan Rogers, Derry, in Allianz Football League action earlier this year. Photo by Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

The GAA can confirm the following fixture arrangements for next weekend's All-Ireland SFC Preliminary Quarter-Finals.

All-Ireland SFC Preliminary Quarter-Finals

Saturday June 22

Galway v Monaghan, Pearse Stadium, 4pm, GAAGO

Tyrone v Roscommon, O'Neills Healy Park, 5pm, GAAGO

Mayo v Derry, Hastings Insurance MacHale Park, 6.30pm, GAAGO

Sunday June 23

Louth v Cork, Grattan Park, Inniskeen, 3pm, GAAGO

Posted: June 17, 2024, 3:44 pm Footballer of the Week nominees Footballer of the Week nominees

Ryan McHugh, Conor Turbitt, and Cormac Costello are this week's nominees for Footballer of the Week.

The voting process is simple: like their image on the GAA's official Instagram page.

Voting will close at 10am on Tuesday June 18, and the winner will be announced on


Ryan McHugh (Donegal)

Ryan McHugh starred in Donegal's emphatic All-Ireland SFC win over Clare. The classy Kilcar clubman drove forward from deep, at every available opportunity, scoring 1-4 for Jim McGuinness' outfit.

Conor Turbitt (Armagh)

Armagh staged a dramatic All-Ireland SFC comeback to draw with Galway at Markievicz Park with Conor Turbitt, who scored four points, an influential figure. Turbitt continues to impress for Kieran McGeeney's side, who have reached the quarter-final stage.

Cormac Costello (Dublin)

Deep into additional time Cormac Costello fisted over a crucial levelling point for Dublin against Mayo at Dr Hyde Park. Costello was in excellent form throughout for Dublin, contributing seven points, including four from play.


Players of the Week are decided based on votes cast by followers of the Official GAA Instagram page.

Posted: June 17, 2024, 11:40 am

Published: September 17, 2008 | Updated: March 31, 2017

Irish Surnames P-R

An alphabetical list of Irish surnames beginning with P and R, from Plunkett to …

Ireland’s Geography & Environment

Although it jealously guards its reputation as a clean, green country, Ireland, …

Irish Place Names: M-O

If you lived in Moneygall would it mean you'd be rich? Sadly no.

Elephants at Dublin Zoo

Being an elephant in Dublin Zoo in the past was not much fun, confined for life …

Sponsored Content


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *